Russia says it wants end to U.S. nuclear discrimination

10:10 | 22/ 05/ 2006

NEW YORK, May 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's nuclear energy chief has warned that there is no alternative to nuclear power in the coming decades and said he wants to secure an end to U.S. discrimination against the country.

Sergei Kiriyenko, currently on a week-long visit to the United States that will end May 24, said he would discuss closer cooperation during a Washington meeting with Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.

"We will certainly discuss lifting discriminatory restrictions on access to the U.S. market for Russian nuclear products and services," Kiriyenko said in the run-up to the meeting. "We need no indulgences - we need open competition on this market."

Restrictions on imports from Russia of low-enriched uranium have been in force since the Soviet era. Russia is currently allowed to operate on the U.S. market without a 116% import duty only through the USEC, a special intermediary agent, under the HEU-LEU Conversion program.

Difficulties began in 1991 when Russia started supplying a large amount of natural uranium to clients worldwide, including the U.S., bringing down prices and provoking anti-dumping procedures.

Kiriyenko also said that Russia and the United States should sign an agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy for civilian purposes because the lack of such a document represented a vestige of Cold War.

"We need a serious joint action program because we have only tactical disagreements in this sphere, but our approaches as to what to do and for what purpose coincide," he said.

The nuclear chief said without nuclear energy industry the world would not be able to ensure global energy security for the next 30-40 years and overcome a looming energy crisis.

"To do this, we must allow new countries to gain access to inexpensive nuclear energy and at the same time guarantee the nuclear non-proliferation regime, under which leaders in the sphere of nuclear energy, such as the U.S. and Russia, assume particular responsibility," Kiriyenko said.

"Joint work to develop the nuclear energy industry is in both our interests," he said. "But the remaining restrictions in this sphere are nothing but an old stereotype that is illogical, impractical and justified neither by Russia or the U.S."

Russia and the U.S. are currently considering a number of joint nuclear energy projects including the development of fourth-generation nuclear reactors and recycling of nuclear waste.